I have a piece of software that formats source material and produces PDF files. These resulting files may be any length and are broken into pages according to a selected page size. (In other words, very standard paged output.)

Since these files are not intended for printing, what I would like is to have them converted to take up one page only with a length that matches the total length of the content.

Does anyone know of a method for reformatting PDF this way on a Mac, or of an "editor" that can perform this one function?

Alternatively, if there's a program that can convert a PostScript file into a single-page PDF by calculating the necessary page size, that would work too.

  • 1
    The quick answer is "yes, sort of". There are good ways to edit PDFs, but PDFs by their nature are fixed in page format. So you will find this a frustrating undertaking. – user9290 Oct 28 '12 at 15:48

It sounds like what you want is to have your PDF docs displayed in a continuous flow on screen with no "page breaks" regardless of length, yes? I don't know of commercial software that can remove the "page breaks" from the onscreen view of a PDF, so my next question is, do you do any programming? In my preferred language, Perl, there are several open source modules dealing with PDFs, and I'm sure most other serious languages have similar capabilities.

I've written several applications whose output is PDF docs (stuff like mailing labels, formatted contact lists, lapel stickers, name tags). From what I have learned about PDF document creation, it's necessary to specify dimensions for the "page" in order to give structure to the number of lines and other layout features, not the least because locations are measured from the BOTTOM left corner of the page, NOT the upper left as is most familiar in page composition software. So I think F'x's comment above has a good hint, which is that if you can dig in there, changing the height of the "page"/bounding box might be a way to get a continuously scrolling PDF instead of one with onscreen space-wasting pagination. Perhaps F'x or someone else knowledgeable could expand on this.

  • After a bit more research, I decided that writing my own app was the best idea. As you say, I can calculate a page size by combining existing sizes, and then I can re-render pages into appropriate rectangles within the expanded page. (I haven't figured out yet whether I can do anything about excess page margins but the basics are working.) – Phillip Mills Oct 31 '12 at 13:52

In your case, being on Snow Leopard, you will want to check for support of that OS. I use PDFPen personally (and professionally) since it's quite powerful and does much more than just edit. They support 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 on the current version and also can support 10.4 and 10.5 on an earlier version of their product.

Here are some other lists of PDF editors in case no one else has one they recommend on 10.6.

Also, Adobe's Acrobat Pro software is the heavyweight tool for all manner of creation, manipulation, optimization of PDF documents, but it is also priced accordingly.

  • That's a pretty generic “how do I manipulate PDF files” answer, but how does it address the specific question asked here? – F'x Oct 27 '12 at 17:05
  • I'm shooting for the "or of an editor" part of the equation. PDfPen is scriptable, so for many it's a good choice for this sort of automated task. – bmike Oct 27 '12 at 17:52

Alternatively, if there's a program that can convert a PostScript file into a single-page PDF by calculating the necessary page size, that would work for me too.

Any PostScript to PDF converter would convert a valid one-page postscript file into a one-page PDF file. You can for example use OS X’s own pstopdf or Ghostscript’s ps2pdf script. If you need to tighten the bounding box, pdfcrop will do the trick.

  • I have no guarantee that the PostScript input would be a single page file; I'd need the converter to ignore page information (or, if necessary, recalculate a page size based on total content). – Phillip Mills Oct 27 '12 at 16:12
  • @PhillipMills just filter out the showpage operators in your PostScript document, and remove the bounding box (or set it to very very large)… then convert to PDF – F'x Oct 27 '12 at 17:04

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